Heroin addiction affects hundreds of thousands in the U.S. every year, including adolescents as young as age 12. Because of its addictive properties and tendency to produce dependence and tolerance, heroin is a dangerous drug that can lead to overdose. Treatment is not only available but can help addicted individuals break free from addiction and learn to prevent relapse. Our heroin addiction treatment program can provide you with the support you need to recover fully.
However, heroin addiction is treatable, and more methods prove effective at helping people overcome the use of heroin all the time. When you know what heroin is, the side effects of use, and the signs of addiction, you’re better equipped to make the journey to enter substance abuse treatment. To learn more about our services, call Vertava Health at 844.451.0263 today.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is an illicit form of an opioid drug derived from morphine, another opioid. It can appear as a white powder or a black or brown sticky substance called black tar heroin.
When used, heroin is snorted, smoked, or injected as a solution. Heroin is also sometimes mixed with other drugs for enhanced effects. When mixed with cocaine, it’s called a speedball.
The drug works by quickly entering your brain and binding to opioid receptors. This changes your perception of pain and response to pleasure. It also affects, almost immediately, heart rate, breathing, and sleeping.
Heroin has the effect of slowing bodily functions, such as breathing and heart rates. When mixed with stimulant drugs like cocaine, which increase these rates, the combined effect can be dangerous, even fatal.
Yet heroin is a dangerous drug to use on its own, and many who begin abusing it first used prescription opioids. Many opioid prescription drugs have effects similar to those of heroin. When people become addicted to them and no longer have access to prescriptions, they may go looking for an alternative. Heroin is less expensive, easily obtained, and often viewed as an alternative to opioid medications.
Signs of a Heroin Addiction
It’s not easy to admit that you’re addicted to heroin or that someone you love may be abusing the drug. However, recognizing the signs and seeking help as soon as possible can make a difference in your life. This can be the difference between being caught in a vicious cycle of addiction and finding the hope and healing you deserve.
The following are signs of heroin addiction:
- Change in pupils and pinpoint pupils
- Chronic constipation
- Extreme sensitivity to pain
- Heightened euphoria or extreme discontent
- Reduced sex drive
- Severe cravings for/uncontrollable urges to seek the drug
Other general signs of addiction include hiding things/secrecy, loss of control, increased risk-taking. They may also do things they normally wouldn’t obtain the drug, lacking interest in things that they used to interest them and distancing themselves from others due to shame or guilt.
Side Effects of Heroin Use
The most immediate side effects of heroin include a rush, during which you experience a feeling of euphoria and well-being, followed by a high or extended period of pleasurable effects. With these effects may come some adverse side effects, though.
The short-term effects of heroin include:
- Clouded mental functioning
- Dry mouth
- Flushed skin
- Heaviness in the arms and legs
- Nausea or vomiting
- Severely slowed breathing
After the initial rush, you may feel drowsiness and clouded mental functioning and have severely slowed breathing for several hours. It’s the slowed breathing that is particularly dangerous. Slowed breathing can be life-threatening and could lead to coma or permanent brain damage.
What Happens If You Don’t Get Treatment?
Without treatment, heroin addiction can affect your health, personal relationships, job, school performance, social involvement, and so much more. As for the long-term effects, repeated heroin use alters the physical structure and physiology of the brain. It can create long-term imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems that may not be reversed.
In addition, the brain’s white matter can be affected by heroin use, so you may see changes to your decision-making abilities, behavior, and responses to situations of high stress.
Heroin Tolerance and Withdrawal
Heroin addiction also produces tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance occurs when you no longer feel the effects of the drug when you take it. As you might guess, this is dangerous as you may take more of the drug, trying to feel its effects, which can contribute to overdose.
Withdrawal happens when you have formed a physical dependence on the drug and experience adverse symptoms when not taking it or when you don’t have access to it. Because of tolerance, withdrawal can happen sooner and sooner each time you use the drug.
Symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:
- Bone and muscle pain
- Cold flashes and goosebumps
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Uncontrollable leg movements
If all the physical ailments weren’t detrimental enough, heroin addiction could also infect your life until you no longer feel that it’s your own. Likely, people close to you won’t be happy about your addiction, which can cause rifts in relationships. While heroin is relatively inexpensive, addiction can take a toll on the finances, especially if you slip in performance at work and lose your job due to drug use.
What Are The Signs Of A Heroin Overdose?
A heroin overdose occurs when an excess of the drug is in the body, whether all at once or built up over time. Overdose from heroin usually occurs with dangerously slowed breathing, which can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. This condition is known as hypoxia.
Decreased oxygen to the brain can cause both short- and long-term effects on the brain and nervous system. It’s essential to recognize the signs of overdose as soon as possible and seek help right away.
Signs of a heroin overdose include:
- Decreased blood pressure and weak pulse
- Delirium or disorientation
- Discoloration of tongue and nails
- Reduced pupil size (pinpoint pupils)
- Stomach or intestinal spasms
- Stopped breathing, shallow breathing, or slow and difficult breathing
Treatment for Heroin Use and Addiction
In light of all the calamity heroin can create, it may come as no surprise that treatment for heroin addiction has to be comprehensive and may involve a number of methods.
At Vertava Health, we recognize that heroin affects the mind and body equally, extending to every aspect of health and life. This includes emotions, behaviors and thought processes, and your physical and mental well-being. That’s why we strive to provide customized, individual programs that best fit each person in treatment.
You’ll also learn to rebuild or gain confidence and change adverse thoughts through psychosocial therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing. Learning to fight these afflicting thoughts before they turn into negative behaviors is key to succeeding in recovery and preventing relapse.
Many of our facilities are located in serene, peaceful settings that offer comforts and luxuries. Why is this important to treatment? Right now, you may be surrounded by your environment of use. Getting away and focusing on treatment alone gives you a greater chance of beating addiction and building a fulfilling life. It’s easiest to focus on treatment if you are surrounded by comfort and feel at peace in healing.
Find Treatment at Vertava Health
We offer medically supervised services that help you stay focused, manage pain and withdrawal, and regulate important bodily functions if you need detoxification. Should you need medication, you’ll have access to it to help manage withdrawal symptoms. Medication-assisted therapy is used in combination with other therapies to give you a holistic healing experience.
We also provide unique, evidence-based, alternative forms of healing, including adventure and wilderness therapy. Learning to survive, and indeed thrive, in the wilderness not only builds your skillset but also improves your self-confidence and sense of fulfillment. Adventure therapy allows you to experience fulfilling activities, improve skills and work on your sense of self.
Whatever rehab center you choose, you should be sure that it will allow you to heal in the way you need and address your individual treatment needs. Vertava Health can put you in touch with some of the best rehab centers that will do just that.
Have you been struggling with heroin addiction and looking for a way out? We want to help you get your life back or build a new one where addiction is left behind. Contact us at 844.451.0263 today to learn more about heroin addiction and the best treatment for you. Your call will be completely confidential.